‘The Eiffel Tower much better + safer than I expected’

Are your summer holidays a distant memory?  Relive them here, as this week I am handing over to interpreter Emma Baldwin who has been looking at the travels of Bessie Greg. We recently encountered Elizabeth Mary Greg (Bessie) and her sweet-toothed recipes in a previous blog about ice cream.  Over to Emma to find out more about her travels.

I first came across this intriguing member of the Greg family whilst searching the vast shelves in Quarry Bank’s archives. I was astonished by the stacks of sources nestled safely away, which contain details of this vibrant woman’s adventures.

As well as being a diligent diarist and letter writer, Bessie also recorded her visits in stunning paintings and photographs.

Sketch by Bessie of her travels
Watercolour by Bessie of her travels

A trip with a friend to Italy via France in May 1889 is recorded in a well-thumbed diary and offers an entertaining insight to her thoughts and expectations of her holiday.

‘The Eiffel Tower much better + safer than I expected’.

Taking just 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to build, the Eiffel Tower was a marvel of its time.  As the Tower didn’t open until 31st March 1889, Bessie could count herself as being amongst the first wave of tourists to visit the iconic attraction.

Isola Bella, Italy, also inspired pleasant reflections, ‘the prettiest part of it was the view of the lake’.

Bessie's sketch of Isola Bella
Bessie’s picture of Isola Bella

She mingled with some English tourists whilst visiting Santa Caterina, and paused to capture it in her watercolour scrap-book.

Sketch of Santa Caterina
Santa Caterina

In Pallanza, Bessie was prevented from taking a drive in the countryside by a bad thunder storm. ‘We stayed sketching about the market place’.

Watercolour of Pallanza
Pallanza

The travelling friends were not impressed with everything that Italy had to offer, however,

‘We could hardly find lunch there [San Michele], it was so primitive’. The locals obviously didn’t cater for tourists!

Her return journey took her through Switzerland, where the city of Lucerne left a lasting impression.

‘Most superb journey and delightful air. It was certainly the finest part we saw in Switzerland’.

Watercolour of Bessie's return journey through Switzerland
Watercolour of Bessie’s return journey through Switzerland

Despite occasional difficulties finding a suitable lunch, Bessie must have enjoyed her travels, as a few years later she was to follow in the footsteps of the great female Victorian explorers and journey much further afield.  More to come on this in a future post…

The Quarry Bank archives host a wealth of information about the Greg family and as part of the Quarry Bank Project, we plan to open up Quarry Bank House, the home of Samuel and Hannah Greg, to visitors in 2017.  Find out more about the Quarry Bank Project

Emma

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